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Fall's hard frost takes its time

The few brave flowers still blooming in yards and outdoor pots give a clue to this weather oddity:

Lexington is having the long est growing season since records started being kept in 1897, said Michael Mathews, staff meteorologist at the University of Kentucky's Agricultural Weather Center.

As of Monday, it was 261 days since that mid-March day when the temperature last hit 28 degrees or lower for a couple of hours.

The average fall date for a hard, or killing, frost, is Nov. 4, Mathews said.

It hasn't happened this fall, and it is unlikely until a cold front passes at midweek.

We would have to go past the end of the week to set a record for latest hard frost. Mathews said his research shows that it happened Dec. 4, 1899 (the second-latest was Dec. 3, 2004).

Those growing seasons weren't longer than this year's because the last hard spring frost was later in 1899 and 2004.

And, because farm crops are all in, the term "growing season" this year mostly means that flowers such as geraniums, which laugh at light frosts, still are happily blooming.